April 25, 2005

Senator Rick Santorum

It may seem that I am unnecessarily dogpiling on this guy but there are a few things about him that get my ire up. My wife and I own a farm. We depend on up-to-date weather information for planning irrigation and pest management (going for organic certification in a few years). I have an onsite weather station but I need to get RADAR and Satellite information as well as trends in nearby areas. The National Weather Service and NOAA do a wonderful job with this at their public website. Senator Santorum has taken about $6,000 in contributions from the family of the company that owns Accuweather and has turned around and put forth a bill that will cut back the Charter of the NWS (National Weather Service) to just gathering the data and providing storm warnings. Hello World! -- gathering data and providing warnings is the most expensive part -- once the data is gathered, putting it up on a website is trivial, cheap and easily automated. Senator Santorum effectively wants to grant a virtual monopoly to two commercial weather information providers. The second item is that I was born and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I have chosen to live in the Pacific Northwest but I still retain very fond memories of that city and an interest in Pennsylvania politics in general. Sen. Santorum is not a good politician and the following is a perfect example. Let's look at Sen. Santorum's family -- we have Rick, a wife Karen Garver Santorum and five children (Elizabeth, 13, Richard, 11, Daniel, 9, Sarah, 6, and Peter Santorum, 5 -- ages are correct as of November, 2004) Let's look at where the Santorum family lives:
The street address is 111 Stephens Lane in Penn Hills, PA A United States Senator, his wife and his five children live in this two bedroom house. It is a nice place and Penn Hills is a gorgeous area but it is not a large house by any stretch of the imagination. So why live here -- and now it gets interesting: From the Murrysville Star:
Taxpayers foot $100K bill for Santorum children to attend cyber charter school
Penn Hills School District records show bills paid with local taxpayers' money for U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum's children to attend a cyber charter school total more than $100,000.

Since the 2001-2002 school year, at least three Santorum children have been attending a cyber charter school.

This year, the school district has to pay $38,000 for Elizabeth, 13, Richard, 11, Daniel, 9, Sarah, 6, and Peter Santorum, 5, to attend Western Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, which is based in Beaver County.

State law requires local school districts to pay the tuition of charter school students who live in the school district.

Santorum owns a home on Stephens Lane in Penn Hills, but he, his wife and six children live in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Herndon, Va.
And Santorum's reply (his office actually, he did not reply directly) when asked about this discrepancy (from the same article):
Santorum's office sent the following statement in response to questions about whether the senator lives in Penn Hills and why his children are registered with Penn Hills School District:

"Sen. Santorum is in fact a resident of the Penn Hills School District. He pays state, local and real estate taxes in Pennsylvania. He spends most of his time in Washington, D.C., serving the people of Penn Hills and the commonwealth as a United States senator.
OK -- lets go over to the Sewickley Herald and see just who does live in this house:
Santorum and his wife, Karen Garver Santorum, have owned the house at 111 Stephens Lane since 1997. They pay about $2,000 annually in property taxes to the district.

But records at the Allegheny County Election Office also show that the couple are not the only people claiming the home as their residence.

Bart and Alyssa DeLuca, both 25, are registered voters listed for the same address. They are not related to Penn Hills Mayor Anthony DeLuca or his father, state Rep. Tony DeLuca.

Alyssa, Karen Garver Santorum's niece, registered as a voter living at the Santorum house in September 2000. Then Bart registered with the election office in June 2001 by using the same address.

Bart is listed in the telephone book for 111 Stephens Lane. The phone number was recently disconnected.

A reporter rang the doorbell at the home last week when four cars were parked in the driveway but no one answered the door.
The emphasis is mine -- the house may be owned by the US Senator but his wife's niece and husband are living there, have voting records and a telephone number. Goes to show that a little nepotism doesn't hurt just so you keep it in the family... In fact, the Santorum's wife's parents own the house next door. From the same article:
Several neighbors refused to answer questions about Santorum's situation. They felt uncomfortable talking about the senator, especially when his wife's parents, Ken and Betty Lee Garver, live next door to the Santorum home.

Neighbors referred to Ken Garver as a well-respected pediatrician who had served many Penn Hills families.
Call me old fashioned but when you seek public office, you need to hold your own personal life to a higher set of ethical standards. It's called "setting a good example". I also think that if something is offered and you need it, then take it. If you do not need it, do not take it as there may be someone with a need greater than your own who could make better use of the resource. You should never manufacture a need just because you can. Ultimately, you do not rip people off. This is probably the worst crime in my book. As seen by this and by the $6,000 buyout by Accuweather, I would not consider Santorum to be fit for the job of Senator. Posted by DaveH at April 25, 2005 10:56 PM